Illinois Showroom Serves Up Style With Local Flair

NAPERVILLE, ILLocation, location, location. This is the mantra of the real estate industry. So, it's no surprise that for Casa Bella Design Center, a showroom and design business with a real-estate affiliation, the thriving downtown area of Naperville, IL was the only place to consider.

"The real estate company that we are affiliated with, Ryan Hill Realty, occupies the second floor of our building," reports Mary Johnson, showroom manager for Casa Bella Design Center. The new showroom is now housed on the main floor, with 1,470 square feet on the lower floor acting as a selection center. "So, now, we take up the whole building.

"It's an amazing location that features a river walk and a variety of activities and events," she offers. "It's a very busy area."
Casa Bella hosted a grand opening party for its showroom this past summer, with some 400 people in attendance. Product vendors, builders and local merchants were welcomed at the event, as were people from Ryan Hill's A-list. "We also invited people from other SEN Buying Group design centers in the area," adds Johnson.

As an unusal touch, kitchen vignettes in the showroom featured food that complemented that section's design. For example, one very modern vignette, offered sushi, while the Tuscan-themed vignette presented an eggplant dish.

Johnson notes that while the showroom targets residential consumers, the company also places an emphasis on the builder/architect relationship, due to its real estate connection.

Local Flavor
Casa Bella's showroom plays on its prime location by featuring work from local craftsmen. "We have things that other showrooms don't have, such as glass from a local artisan," states Johnson. The showroom also features an aluminum backsplash done by a local metalworker.

In fact, the showroom features many distinctive touches specific to its designers. Co-owners Teresa Ryan and Jeff Petrie laid the groundwork for how they wanted the showroom to look, and then turned things over to designers Jessica Gomes and Brenda Pawyza.

"Gomes was with the project from the second day, and she chose 90 percent of the products," reports Johnson. Pawyza helped wrap up the whole project, and will continue to be instrumental in the showroom's operations.

"What I like about the showroom, and what works well for our client base, is that the designers who currently work here were so heavily involved in the production of it that it's like walking through their portfolios," remarks Johnson.

Their distinctive touches are featured everywhere in the 2,200-sq.-ft. primary selling area on the main floor. There are three full-size kitchen displays that feature either a working refrigerator or working wine cooler. One kitchen also has a working oven. Product lines featured include KitchenAid/ Whirlpool, GE Direct, Viking Range and Sirius Range Hoods, among others.
The one bath includes a vanity with double bowl and a two-sided walk-in shower. A den with a plasma television and fireplace features intricate millwork.

Johnson notes that there are also two displays of cabinetry by Christiana Cabinetry one bath vanity and a small run of kitchen cabinets. Jay Rambo has furnished an entertainment center for the showroom, and the selection center will also soon feature a Jay Rambo closet system display. Merillat Masterpiece cabinets round out the cabinet offerings, though the company plans to add a fourth cabinet line in 2005.

Plumbing and fixtures are offered from a wide range of companies, including Kohler, Whitehaus Collection and MTI Whirlpools.
"We also highlight countertops from Silestone, Zodiaq, Corian, Spekva, Avonite and Soupcan, a local company that does concrete as well as metal countertops," notes Johnson. Granite and marble countertops are also shown.

Send in the Crowds
Casa Bella Design Center hosts a number of different types of events to summon interest and bring in customers. Santa even made an appearance in late November, posing for free photos with neighborhood children.

"These events are an effort to get people to come in to expose our showroom to a wealth of people," says Johnson. "More than anything, though, it's just sort of good will. We're heavily involved in the chamber of commerce here, and we do things to stay involved in the community."

In January, Casa Bella is planning an open house event for real estate agents. The company also plans to have additional open houses for builders and architects, and then interior designers. "We also host meetings for the chamber of commerce," Johnson remarks.

All of this activity keeps the staff of Casa Bella pretty busy. In addition to the two owners, Johnson, Gomes and Pawyza, Brooke Pickton acts as showroom consultant, and Erika Noble provides bookkeeping services.

The staff uses 20/20 software, CAD and hand drawings to help its customers through the design process, and offers an extensive Web site at

For a showroom with a local flavor, Casa Bella Design Center provides services on a grand scale. "Our showroom brings
a little luxe to downtown Naperville," concludes Johnson.